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The Recreational Craft Directive (RCD) was introduced by the European Commission in 1994 to ensure a uniform level of safety in the design and manufacture of recreational craft throughout the European Economic Area. The directive came into force in 16th June 1996 with conformity being voluntary until 16th June 1998 after which the RCD became mandatory. An amendment was introduced in 2004, with the intention of incorporating marine engines (noise and exhaust) and jet ski craft within the scope of the Directive.
The Directive applies to all craft intended to be used for sporting and recreational purposes with a hull length of between 2.5 and 24 metres, which will be placed for the first time on the European Market. With a number of Exclusions:
The Recreational Craft Direcitve consists of essential requirements. By using the harmonized ISO standards complians with these essential requirements can be shown.
Classification societies are organizations that establish and apply technical standards in relation to the design, construction and survey of marine related facilities including ships and offshore structures. These standards are issued by the classification society as published rules. A vessel that has been designed and built to the appropriate rules of a society may apply for a Certificate of Classification from that society. The society issues this certificate upon completion of relevant classification surveys.
Such a certificate does not imply, and should not be construed as an express warranty of safety, fitness for purpose or seaworthiness of the ship. It is an attestation only that the vessel is in compliance with the standards that have been developed and published by the society issuing the classification certificate.
Classification rules are developed to contribute to the structural strength and integrity of essential parts of the ship’s hull and its appendages, and the reliability and the function of the propulsion and steering systems, power generation and those other features and auxiliary systems which have been built into the ship in order to maintain essential services on board.
A ship is maintained in class provided that the relevant rules have, in the opinion of the society concerned, been complied with and surveys carried out in accordance with its rules.
The most common classification bureaus are: